Probing deeply into texts by and about prominent Christian mystics, religious authors, and saints, German Mysticism and the Politics of Culture challenges the reader to rethink the medieval past as a contemporary presence. This "presence of the past" shapes memory of place, valorizes the trope of ecstatic sexual union as death, and continues the religious marginalization of female voice and authority. The chapters focus on the works and lives of Hadewijch, Marie d'Oignies, Dionysius of Ryckel, Heinrich Seuse, Margarete Ebner, St. Elisabeth, Hrotsvit of Gandersheim, and the stigmatic Therese Neumann. Part One of the volume examines the dynamics of cultural memory and forgetting as they relate to issues of sexuality, female authority, and national politics; Part Two explores themes of love and death, erasure and displacement. Medieval Christian mysticism, the author argues, cannot be narrated as a story of great cultural accomplishment but, rather, as a fundamentally agonistic scenario shaped by actors whose impact still affects us today.
Contents: Unio Mystica - Blood Mysticism - Masculinity - Who is Hrotsvit of Gandersheim? - Homoerotic Desire - The Punishments of Saint Elisabeth - Love and Death in the Vernacular - The Death Song of Marie d'Oignies.
Ulrike Wiethaus received her PhD in religious studies at Temple University. She is currently Professor in the Department of Religion with a joint appointment in American Ethnic Studies at Wake Forest University. Her publications on medieval Christian spirituality include Agnes Blannbekin, Viennese Beguine: Life and Revelations (translated from the Latin with introduction, notes, and interpretive essay, 2002 reissued in 2012); Ecstatic Transformations: Ecstasies and Visions in the Work of Mechthild of Magdeburg and Transpersonal Psychology (1995); Maps of Flesh and Light: The Religious Experience of Medieval Women (edited, with an introduction and a previously unpublished essay, 1993); and Dear Sister: The Correspondence of Medieval Women (co-edited with Karen Cherewatuk, with an introduction and a previously unpublished essay, 1993).